1992 Photo Contest, General News, 1st prize

Steve McCurry

Magnum Photos for National Geographic

01 March, 1991

Camels search for untainted shrubs and water in the burning oil fields of southern Kuwait. As his army retreated from Kuwait, at the end of the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein ordered the ignition of the oil fields that scatter the country. The effect was an ecological disaster of unimaginable scale. Steve McCurry: 'Photographing the ecological disaster in the aftermath of the Gulf War was one of the most amazing experiences of my professional life. All of Kuwait seemed like an end-of-the-world scenario from a Hollywood production. Over 600 oil wells were on fire, turning daytime into night. The smoke was so thick that sometimes you couldn’t breathe. Animals were left to wander among the burning oil fields, looking for food and water. I followed this family of camels for about an hour in my jeep, getting out from time to time to make photographs. I guess my motivation was to show the world this tragic, needless catastrophe.' (World Press Photo retrospective Children's Jury exhibition, 2003)

About the photographer

Steve McCurry

After graduating from Pennsylvania University, Steve McCurry worked at a newspaper for two years and then left the United States to freelance on the Indian subcontinent. The mate...

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